games / Columns

The Average Gamer 3.5.13: Violence in Games

March 5, 2013 | Posted by Dan Watson

Welcome back to the Average Gamer.

I am a homeowner. I have spent a ton of time at the place making it ours and feel homey. I will be moving in within the next few weeks/month.

I don’t want to spend too much time on the other stuff going on in my life as this topic has been brought up before and I figure it is again time to address it. Before I do that though, Adam Larck did send another Average Review so let’s toss that in real quick.

Average Review

Little Inferno (iOS)

When I first saw Little Inferno, I immediately thought it was a new game by 2D Boy.

Well, I was half right. It’s actually from Tomorrow Corporation, a studio formed from 2D Boy and Kyle Gray. Coincidentally, Tomorrow Corporation is also the name of the corporation in the game that makes the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace that is the centerpiece for the game.

Gameplay is simple enough: buy stuff for a catalogue, wait for it to arrive, light it on fire, collect money and repeat. Sure, you can find 99 combos in the game with objects to string together to get access to more catalogues and items, but the core of the game stays the same.

The game actually features a bit of satire on how many social games and cell games are played today. Similar to waiting for energy or the ability to make one more move, you’ll do a similar thing here as you wait for the next item to set to fire and move on, similar to just burning time while waiting.

The story is told through letters that are sent to you, that you can burn after reading. You can buy more spaces to hold stuff to burn with coins. Early on, this may seem like a hard choice to spend the money, but by the end of the game you’ll have too much money than the game will let you hold.

The game is pretty simplistic overall, and may have people questioning the $5 price tag for the few hours of gameplay Little Inferno offers. However, I enjoyed my time burning random items and seeing the odd ending. If you’re on edge about this, I suggest waiting on a same for the game, but if you own an iPad I’d check it out at some point.

Violence in Gaming

Before I begin, I am one of those that feel people who do these acts do so with a purpose. I do not believe in allowing these people to gain notoriety based on these acts so no names will be used.

There has been much brought up lately about violence in gaming. There was a recent survey done that took 2000 United States Adults and asked them about ESRB, Violence in Gaming, and Monitoring Children that game. In that survey 58% of the responses stated they felt recent violent acts can be attributed to violence in gaming. Also, 33% of parents do not monitor their children’s video games and the same number (33% of respondents) do not know what the ESRB is. That is a lot to take in so let’s break that down a bit.

58% of adults in the US believe violence has been a contributing factor of the recent violent acts in the country. I won’t tell someone their opinion is wrong but I respectfully disagree with this. As I have stated several times in other columns and this one as well, living near the city of Chicago shows how little video games and gun control matter when it comes to violent acts. Most people who commit crimes are not doing so because of video games and they are not purchasing weapons legally normally. The most recent violent act that took place on a national forum would be the violent acts against the LAPD and other innocents. This man was not a video game player. Nowhere in his rant on Facebook did he state he played Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or any other game that involves violence. The incident in Colorado was again, not an act that could be contributed to video games. There is no video game that allows gamers to just pick up weapons and kill within a theatre.

Most of these cases stem from one issue, mental illness. In this country it is okay for an employer to ask if you have had a mental illness but not okay to ask your race, gender, marital status, or sexual preference. This only goes to push people away from getting the help they need. If you go and get treated and are told you suffer from any mental disorder you may as well make your second stop McDonald’s to pick up an application. This country needs to change the overall stigma pertaining to mental health. Most people who suffer from a mental illness find out about it in your late teens to mid-twenties. Those are prime ages for starting a career. There is already so much pressure on people in this age range. If you take away the avenue of getting help, of course there will be violent lash outs.

33% of parents do not monitor what their child is playing. The same number does not know what the ESRB is. Now, if this were a world-wide survey I would say that is an okay number but these are American Adults with children. How can you allow your child to play a video game without knowing what they are playing? I will agree that video games allow gamers to control the act of violence which separates games from movies. What I will not agree with is that it is a reason people commit violent acts. These 33% of parents are allowing children of any age to play what they would like when the gaming industry and government are giving a rating system right on the front of the game. Even if you do not know what E, T, or M mean, it says it right below the later. E for everyone, E10 for gamers 10 and up, T for teen, M for Mature, the concept isn’t impossible to figure out. At the same time, there is even preventative measures as stores. At almost thirty years old, I am still carded when I buy a mature game. Each time I say, at least this should be taking the heat off of gamers but it isn’t. Parents are buying the games for these kids and then when the kid does something stupid it is the games fault. At what point are parents responsible for their child’s actions?

So what needs to happen? In my opinion, the first step is clearing the stigma attached to mental illness. In order for that to happen, the government needs to stop allowing employers to ask about mental history. If the person is a danger that is one thing but if I suffer from some illness it isn’t up to you or any other employer to say I am inadequate as a person. Second, there needs to be some backlash towards parents. If a minor commits a violent act and there is any connection to violent media, there needs to be some discourse towards the parents who are supposed to be supervising their children. My parents knew what I was playing and who I was hanging out with. It doesn’t seem like that hard of a task to just talk to your child once in a while. The last thing that needs to take place is a long-term study on the true effects of violence in video games. I have seen studies done showing that gaming doesn’t affect a person and studies showing the complete opposite. I would like to see one study done that shows these effects or non-effects and allows us to move to a solution.

That is it for this week, next week we will cover something a bit more positive I hope. Have a great weekend. Be safe if you live near the Midwest as we are expecting 8-10 inches of snow.


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Dan Watson
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